Cory Iverson died December 14th battling the Thomas Fire in Ventura County. The 32-year-old fire apparatus engineer died after he getting caught in a swarm of spot fires in the Fillmore area.
He leaves behind his wife Ashley, their 3 year old daughter Evie, and baby Taylor, due in May.
Ashley Iverson described her life following her husband's death as the "most horrible and wonderful and terrible and amazing" experience she's ever endured.
"It's ceaseless," Iverson said of the outpouring of support following her husband's death. "I'm now, through this experience, even more a firm believer that the more gratitude you give the more you'll have to be grateful for."
"It is the most horrible and wonderful and terrible and amazing and horrifying and incredible thing I’ve ever experienced and will ever experience," said Iverson.
Even just moments after learning that her beloved husband was never coming home, she still found a reason to be thankful.
"It’s ceaseless. I am now even more a firm believer that the more gratitude you give the more you’ll have to be grateful for," said Iverson. "When it happened, the first ten minutes, I was able to feel gratitude and that was when I asked if anyone else was hurt and they said no."
She and Cory shared a deep faith and she now feels that both God and Cory are guiding her.
"There are definitely rough evenings and rough mornings, but I’m able to feel them say I’m OK, You’re OK. I’m right here,” said Iverson.
The couple met when she was just 26, but she says Cory left her with everlasting love.
"The thing that gets me through is the love that we shared in those five years were greater than an entire lifetime," said Iverson.
She talks about the moment she learned her husband had been killed.
"I fell to the ground and my shoes fell off and I stood back up and Evie tells me, "Mommy get your shoes back on, what are you doing," said Iverson.
She immediately broke the news to her daughter.
"I picked her up and I looked her in the eye and I said, 'Baby, I need you to know something. Daddy went to be with God today and he’s not coming home' and she started sobbing in my shoulder," Ivesron said. "How could a two-year-old know what that was?”
During Friday's interview with 10News, Iverson's daughter seemed to be a happy, energetic toddler who loves Beauty and the Beast and Frozen.
"She's great. She’s trucking along, we talk about him and she gets sad about him she doesn’t like it when I cry about him," said Iverson. "But I tell her it’s not fair, he should come home for you."
Iverson admits she wasn't always this positive. She says throughout the tremendous pain of losing her husband, she's finally found purpose in her own life.
"Corey struggled heavily watching me struggle with anxiety and depression and specifically needing to help people on a bigger scale and God and Corey have given me that platform to make that difference," said Iverson.
She wants to start a foundation called the Iverson Foundation for Active Awareness to help firefighters deal with the mental demands of the job.
"They go to work and literally pick up pieces of people. The human brain can only compartmentalize that so much," she said. "The culture has always been that if you’re not strong enough to handle that type of scene, what you see, then you don’t belong and that’s ludicrous to me, that mentality and culture needs to shift."
She said she already received a positive response from the President of the International Association of Firefighters.
"What I believe will heal is communication between them, the stigma that it’s not OK to talk needs to go," said Iverson.
Right now, Iverson is getting ready for the birth of the couple's second daughter. Baby Taylor is due in early May.
"He left us with so many blessings," she said. "I just gotta keep going. I have to make my husband proud."
Iverson said there are still daily challenges, but she's making it through a day at a time.
"There are definitely rough evening and rough mornings but I'm able to feel them and say 'I'm okay. You're okay,'" Iverson said.